Friday, October 4, 2013

Natural products: A look at a few ingredient lists

In this post on Ritathix DOE, Kate noted: PEG compounds are excluded from ECOcert so I'm not sure how this could be claimed as natural.

(Click on the label to embiggen if you want to read the entire list properly.)

I've said this before...I don't know what natural means any more. There isn't a definition for the word when it comes to cosmetics: All it means is something comes from. Doesn't everything at some point or another? Mineral oil is made from dead dinosaurs - what could be more natural than a dinosaur? - and silicones are made from sand.

Take a look at that label. What makes this product "natural"? It contains C12-14 olefin sulfonate (derived from coconuts) and other things it calls soy based or derived from coconut. How does it differ from a drug store or salon brand shampoo?

This Suave shampoo contains: Water (aqua), sodium laureth sulfate, cocamidopropyl betaine, sodium chloride, glycerin, prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), aloe barbadensis leaf juice (aloe vera), cymbopogon schoenanthus oil (lemongrass), rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf oil, chamomilla recutita (matricaria) flower/leaf extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) flower extract, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, dimethicon.

How is it different than the other companies' ingredients lists? Does your opinion of it change if I alter the ingredient list slightly? I'll add some brackets - sodium laureth sulfate (derived from coconuts) or cocamidopropyl betaine (derived from coconuts).

This is a product I saw in the store and I took a picture of it. Let's take a look at a few more. What about this JASON shampoo, Super Shine Apricot Shampoo? Aqua (Water), Sodium Cocoyl Isethionate, Cocamidopropyl Hydroxysultaine, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Lauryl Sulfoacetate, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice(1), Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract(1), Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract(1), Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract(1), Equisetum Arvense Leaf Extract(1), Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract(1), Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Citric Acid, Dimethicone, Guar Hydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Hydrolyzed Soy Protein, Panthenol, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Phytate, Sodium Suflate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Alcohol(1), Ethylhexylglycerin, Phenoxyethanol, Benzyl Salicylate, Fragrance (Parfum)

I could go on, but I'll spare you the hours of reading ingredient lists and encourage you to go on a search yourself. I started thinking about this when shopping for a baby shower for someone who only wanted organic and natural products. If I had a dime for every organic and natural product we saw using exactly the same ingredients I use in my workshop, each one with (derived from x) in brackets...well, I could buy myself a lot of new things for the workshop! 

In the case of Ritathix DOE, I don't know how it could be considered natural for two reasons - I can't find a data sheet, so I can't find more information than I've shared on the blog here, and I don't consider anything natural as I can't find a definition of the word and I can't get anyone to agree on a definition - but it doesn't really bother me either way. I guess I could say it was derived from sugar - the word "glucose" is in the INCI - and leave it at that, as it seems like that's what everyone else does!

Just my thoughts for the morning. I don't want to come across as demeaning anyone's beliefs, but I really encourage you to take a long look at what products you consider natural, what ingredients you consider natural, and how you arrived at that conclusion because I think you might be surprised by what you find in your store bought products.

I have to comment on Earth Mama Angel Baby's remark that "Angel Baby Oil has no toxins, no nut oils and NO BABIES!" Wow! I'm glad you cleared that up because I certainly don't want toxins in my products! I put this on par with St Ives's comment about "no unnecessary chemicals". Well, duh!  

Related posts:
What does coconut derived mean?
To those of you writing to me about natural products...
Thanks for your input on the definition of natural
Defining your products by what's NOT in it
Why am I perceived as hating natural things?
Question: What does natural mean?
How to interpret the names of surfactants
Are the ingredients I use on the blog safe?
How to research ingredients


LOÏE said...

I noticed my Burt's Bees hand lotion had a "certified natural products association" seal. So I looked it up. I haven't really had the time to read into it thoroughly, but I guess these are some of the people that decide what's' "natural".

A link to their site

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

There doesn't seem to be information on why some companies are approved while others aren't. And I couldn't find an ingredient list. I would disagree that this group has any real say into what we think of as natural products in a meaningful way when you're the first to mention them! But thanks for the link.

Sally said...

I saw a funny one the other day that was labelled 'natural' and said "phenoxyethanol - derived from green tea" and then went on to list the benefits of green tea in their product description!!! Frustrating!

Heela said...

I tried to find something that was natural as possible for a baby shower and I ended up buying California Baby products. It fit the bill as far as I am concerned, but I thought their use of essential oils for babies was sketch.

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Sally. Ha! That's what I'm talking about!

Hi Heela! I wouldn't trust a company that states, "California Baby specializes in natural, non-chemical, aromatherapy skin, hair, bath and suncare products." Eek! They do a lot of that "derived from" stuff, and the only difference between their lists and other, non-organic companies' lists is that they do all the "sourced from..." stuff.

If these products are so much better than regular ones, why all the deceptive practices? Sigh...

Brandi Yates said...

You make this so much easier to understand. It is amazing that most of these products have the same surfactants you teach. I just dont understand how they can put all of the extracts and botanical ingredients in their products when some of them only cost $3 like Suave. Im guessing it is a very tiny amount. I cannot believe I am now able to read these labels!

Anar Todrol said...

Susan, I agree on product that are called natural or organic however, they are not 100% safe. I do stand for the natural or organic products are much better than the other shampoos with filled with SLS, parabens, EDTA, DEA, MEA, TEA, coal tar, 1, 4-dioxane, triclosan and synthetic fragrance and more. Did you know some of these chemicals haven't been tested on human health???? every year there are numerous new chemicals being introduced without testing. In Canada, bans about 700 toxic chemicals, however, in the US bans 11 toxic chemicals. On the other hand, EU bans over 1400. There're toxic to human body. It's great to know what are the health risks of these chemicals for long term use. As we are women, we use 10 or more products everyday including shampoo, conditioner, lotion, and make up. How many ingredients each contain? 20, 30? we use it everyday, which lead to infertility issues, babies are born sick, kids that have autism, all sorts of cancer and more. It's not just personal care products, its shower curtain that are off gas, non stick frying pans and pots, carpet and couches made with fire retardant and other toxic chemicals. Its just insane lists goes on. I think you have the power to teach your student or followers what they can avoid what they can by making a choice. Have you heard of EWG? non profit organization by David Suzuki, they test random products from shelf and shows what's in the products all ingredients including disclosed ones. Shows how harmful they are or safe are. They have app you can download "Healthy Living" and "Dirty Dozen" .

Susan Barclay-Nichols said...

Hi Anar! I've heard of all the sites to which you refer, but they aren't reliable sources of scientific information, and I'm afraid we consider them fear mongering sites. There are many agencies regulating cosmetic ingredients, and if they find one that is concerning, they remove it. There are dozens of examples of this, if you wish to take a look.

I'm afraid your statistics are just wrong. There are many ingredients that aren't allowed in cosmetic products, not just 11. The EU has its reasons for limiting some ingredients, just like Canada does. Stating that the EU bans one thing while another country doesn't means nothing. Britain allows saccharin; Canada doesn't. What does that mean? Nothing.

Did you know that drinking alcohol is a category 1 cancer risk, meaning that it is known and proven to cause about 1 out of every 17 cancers, but you never see these sites telling you to stop drinking. Oh no, you see pictures of all of these wellness warriors with glasses of wine or other alcoholic beverages all the time. Instead, they pick on something like SLS, which isn't known to cause cancer. (Its biggest crime is being a less than mild cleanser).

Parabens, too. That study that everyone likes to quote is a joke - it's not a study, it was a series of tumours that were tested by some doctor. There was no control group. Go to the cancer society for Canada or the US and read up about parabens there. They'll tell you there's no evidence they contribute to anything. And why are they in our bodies? Because they're naturally occurring in blueberries and honeysuckle, to name a few things.

There's no evidence that the miniscule amount of 1,4-dioxane in any products - including natural and organic products - cause any problems in humans. The dose makes the poison; everything is lethal if you use enough of it.

Every product that ends up on the shelves has to have a full ingredient list. Funny enough, the companies that violate that the most are the "natural" or organic ones as they hide their preservatives under "parfum", then`claim to be preservative free. They use the same ingredients as conventional products, only they put things like "derived from coconut" or "derived from sugar" beside the ingredient name to baffle those who read it.

I have the power to educate, and that's what I'm doing. I would hope you would read some of the scientific evidence i have provided on this blog and make your decisions for yourself instead of relying on these groups that profit from fear mongering.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.